The post-lockdown boost to non-essential retail appears to have come to an unwelcome end as both spending and footfall are down in brick-and-mortar, non-essential retail.
July footfall, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported, was down 28% by comparison to the same month two years ago (pre-pandemic), and down 0.4% from June 2021.
July spending, Barclaycard data showed, was in decline too in the face-to-face retail sector.
Spending in physical stores (excluding grocery) was down 0.2% on June, showing that customer interest was cooling off after an initial post-lockdown spike. Internet spending has continued to perform well, however.
Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC, said: “After improvements in footfall in the early part of 2021, the situation has plateaued with little change in footfall levels for a third month in a row.
“The turbulent weather, with initial heatwaves giving over to torrential rain, appears to have dampened the mood for shopping in July, with a particularly pronounced fall in footfall at retail parks.
“However, the last week of July offered a glimmer of hope for retailers as the easing of restrictions led to the best weekly performance of 2021.
“Retailers hope this trend will continue as the rise of vaccinations and falling coronavirus case numbers boosts consumer confidence.
“Government and businesses must take the opportunity to build back a better future for our local destinations.
“With the number of empty shopfronts still rising in many parts of the country, it is vital we rebuild our local communities to integrate leisure, retail, services, and homes.
“For this to be successful, Government must fulfil their commitment to alleviate the unsustainable cost burden placed on retailers by the broken rates system in their upcoming business rates review.
“This will allow retailers to continue invest in their physical and digital offerings and provide communities with vibrant spaces to visit, work and shop.”